Resigning from a job involves a handful of steps, which at times may feel arduous, but are important to achieve the primary goal of exiting any company: leave on good terms. You never know when or why you might need to ask a former employer for a reference, so take all measures you can to leave on a positive note. Part of this process involves writing a letter of resignation. While it may feel like an unnecessary task—you’re already having a conversation with your boss announcing your departure—the letter is a formal gesture and an important element both in your resignation and in achieving that primary goal. In fact, some companies may even require one as part of an employee’s contract, but even if the letter isn’t required, prepare yourself to write one any time you leave a position as it’s considered professional and follows office etiquette.
What exactly is a resignation letter? It’s a short, formal, and friendly letter that announces you’re leaving the company and your current role. You’ll want to write it with a small audience in mind, particularly your current boss, any additional supervisors, the HR team, and any of your co-workers with whom you work with regularly (it’s not meant for the entire company). Unless your company has specific policy stating otherwise, you’ll want to submit this letter two weeks prior to your last day.
As for the contents of the letter itself, there are a few talking points and features you can keep in mind. First, don’t take up too much time with throat-clearing. This means you can just get to the point—you’re not writing a novel here. You can maintain a friendly and formal tone and even address the letter with “Dear [name of your boss],” and ask that they please accept this as your formal letter of resignation in the official title of your role and include the date of your last day.
You may be wondering if you need to include the reason why you’re leaving. You don’t. This may be something you feel like bringing up with your boss in a conversation, but you don’t have to include it in the letter. If you do, just keep it brief (like the entire letter itself) and say you’ve been offered a new opportunity that will allow you to further explore a certain interest or skill.
Next, be thankful of your time there and express appreciation for the opportunities you were given. You can elaborate on a few specifics, such as things you learned, skills you grew, projects you enjoyed, and responsibilities you took on.
Lastly, you can offer to help with any training or the transition period with a new employee if you feel that it’s appropriate. Don’t forget to offer your best wishes and include your contact information.
Of course, every element of this letter can be adjusted for the needs of your situation, but one thing to make sure of is to keep it positive. The resignation letter is not the place to let your boss know what you really think of them or what you hated about your job.
You can visit a no-cost Goodwill Career Center and ask a career advisor for assistance with job preparation, including resume building, cover letter writing, and interview techniques. Call 602-535-4444 to find a center near you or visit our locations page.